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Monday, July 23, 2018

Beano 80th anniversary cover revealed

Cover art by Nigel Parkinson.
This is the cover to this week's Beano, which is the 80th birthday issue. No.3945, on sale Wednesday 25th July. More info:

Some might have expected it to be a retrospective issue, but that requirement is covered by the Beano: 80 Years of Fun bookazine (or even better in the box set with 8 facsimile back issues). The weekly Beano is aimed squarely at the kids, so it's lively and story-led. 

It is still somewhat special though. It has 8 extra pages, is guest-edited by David Walliams (known to a lot of kids for his children's books as well as his X-Factor appearances) and includes an extra-length story featuring Beano stars past and present. 

Sadly, the extra-length story has pushed out Big Eggo this week, but he'll be back the week after. 

How has the Beano survived when all other traditional humour comics have long gone? I think it's down to two main factors...

1) Familiarity. 
The Beano has maintained the same core characters since the 1950s; Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids, and Roger the Dodger. (Add Billy Whizz to that too, who's been running - pardon the pun, - since 1964.) Other strips come and go, but those five strips are constant. Parents and grandparents recognise those characters and the "Beano style" so they feel confident that the comic is suitable for their kids. 

Other comics, such as The Dandy, Buster, and Whizzer and Chips, retained a few core characters but mostly used to bring in new characters all the time. This meant the identity of the comics changed somewhat, being the same in name only. That said, The Dandy's 75 year run was nothing to be sniffed at. 

By maintaining the brand, everyone knows what the Beano is and regards the core characters as friends. Even better, that they interact within each other's strips and all live in 'Beanotown'.

2) Adapting to change.
Although maintaining a recognisable 'Beano brand', the comic has also changed with the times so that new generations can relate to it. Dennis is no longer the bully who picks on 'softy' Walter and ends up getting spanked. That type of character became tired and outdated years ago, and modern Dennis is more likeable albeit still mischievous. The Beano has a more diverse mix of characters now too, and subsequently is appealing to a more balanced mixture of both boys and girls. 

Maintaining the status quo and adapting with the times isn't an easy balance to take but the Beano has achieved it and proves to still be a popular read. (Sales have even increased in recent times.)

So... Happy Birthday to the Beano and long may it reign! 


James Spiring said...

Walliams is from Britain's Got Talent, not X-Factor.

Lew Stringer said...

I knew it was some crap show I didn't watch.

Kal said...

Those two factors are evident in their rarely going overboard with character redesigns, something that other titles did.

I mean, the biggest changes I can think of are Tricky Dicky turning ginger and being less of an unmitigated arsehole and Kev F's interpretation of Roger the Dodger. Even in the latter case, Kev just changed Roger's hairstyle and made him a bit more conniving. Nothing too jarring.

SID said...

LOL. I thought that was the reason for the mistake.

Congratulations for The Beano reaching its 80th birthday. A great feat especially considering it is 2018 and, as you say, chances are no other UK comic will match it.

Then again, judging from my parents' example, neither will I.

Kal said...

Oh, and Dennis' dad of course. But that's simply pushing everyone back a generation.

Lew Stringer said...

Jamie Smart revamped Roger the Dodger considerably several years ago, but he was later reverted to a more traditional style when Barrie Appleby took over. The most consistent strip is THe Bash Street Kids of course, - still drawn by the same artist since 1962!

Kevin Larkin said...

Ball Boy changed his appearance as often as Doctor Who. And still outstayed his welcome.

varszava_vavava said...

I think a factor is also that the writing is sharper - compared to what I read as a child - and that writing aims to to compete with the Simpsons comic.

As for the core characters. The Beano ones are better than the Dandy ones were. Winker Watson, Dirty Dick, Corporal Clott, Smasher against the Beano ones: not much of a contest. I will leave Desperate Dan out of this.

Lew Stringer said...

Personally I always preferred The Dandy characters because they had more variety (and more variety in art styles) but clearly The Beano was the one that appealed to kids more.

SID said...

Did I hear someone saying that Beano having better characters than The Dandy???

NEVER!!! ;)

Seriously though, I would agree that Beano's characters are commercially better (how can you argue that they're not?). But I always thought that The Dandy's characters were a little more 'outside the box'. I still think that if it had developed a consistent core of characters like its sister publication, it could still be here today.

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